Coping patterns in special school staff: demographic and organizational factors.

Research paper by J J Adams, S S Dudenhöffer, M M Claus, R R Kimbel, S S Letzel, D-M DM Rose

Indexed on: 03 Oct '15Published on: 03 Oct '15Published in: Occupational medicine (Oxford, England)


Teachers' mental health is commonly discussed in organizational health studies, but studies in special schools are rare. Work-related coping and experience patterns (WCEPs) have been shown to be associated with mental health and intentions to leave. The influence of organizational factors on coping patterns has not been examined.To assess the distribution of WCEPs in special school staff and to identify potential influencing factors.We surveyed a sample of teachers and educational staff in 13 German special schools using the WCEP questionnaire and COPSOQ (Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire).Of 245 teachers and 417 educational staff contacted, 114 teachers (47%) and 252 educational staff (60%) responded, an overall response rate of 55% (366/662). Coping patterns of special school staff were classified as unambitious (30%), excessively ambitious (7%), resigned (17%), healthy-ambitious (12%) or unclassifiable (34%). Furthermore we found several significant relations with demographic and organizational factors. For example, the resigned pattern is associated with age [Exp(B) 1.12; 95% CI 1.05-1.19], emotional demands [Exp(B) 1.07; 95% CI 1.01-1.12], work-family conflict [Exp(B) 1.07; 95% CI 1.03-1.10] and bullying [Exp(B) 1.04; 95% CI 1.00-1.08].Since emotional and social factors are associated with risky (excessively ambitious or resigned) and unambitious coping patterns in special school teachers and educational staff, interventions should focus on them. Further research could explore causal relations and observe the development of coping styles over time.